The Hold Steady setlist Cabaret Mile End, MTL (10.20.10)

Sweet Part of the City

You Can Make Him Like You
Hurricane J
The Swish
Rock and Roll Problems
Banging Camp
Chips Ahoy
Sequestered In Memphis
Sweet Payne
Stevie Nix
You Gotta Dance
Ascension Blues
Stuck Between Stations
Lord I'm Discouraged
Your Little Hoodrat Friend
Slapped Actress

Constructive Summer
Hot Soft Light
Girls Go For Status
Massive Nights 


Eamon McGrath opens for Frank Turner (Horseshoe Tavern)

Back from a quick trip back to the West Coast, where he played a handful of dates with Mohawk Lodge bandleader (and White Whale Records founder) Ryder Havdale, Eamon backed by the rest of the Lodge showed more than ably why his own album Peacemaker charted as high as it did on Canadian college radio's Soundscan this summer.  Owing no doubt to his continued prolific output McGrath delivered cuts from Peacemaker alongside a couple of covers and  recently penned material.   Opening with a blisteringly shaky production of Powderfinger followed by Peacemaker's Cut Knife City Blues the Lodge leaned more towards the power throttle they are known for than some of the more erstwhile ballads that equally define Peacemaker.  With Havdale comfortable letting McGrath's youthful and feverish lead guitar work take the fore there is more room left for Ryder to buoy up the ensemble with more than competent bass playing.

Eamon debuted at least to this listener a new tune with trademark Mohawk Lodge singalong chorus: File Under Fire.  Likewise Holy Roller and Signals filled out the set in place of any number of heartfelt staples from his current album.  McGrath at his relatively tender age of 22 seems to have a leg up on his contemporaries, it being one thing to know you've got a problem another to sing a song about it and still a third to make that song devastatingly loving.  Many of Eamon's songs carry similar themes of abuse, whether drug or alcohol, but take on a more universal quality with his insight beyond his years that the most assiduous form of abuse is something like self-abuse.  Not surprisingly McGrath owes a debt of gratitude to Mark Linkous, a similarly afflicted talent, whose Saturday (from Sparklehorse' debut) got a strong airing.

As in the Mohawk Lodge, McGrath was accompanied at times (as on the original Machine Gun Cowboy) by chain smashed on wood (courtesy of fellow Edmontonian and keyboardist, lap steel, chain weilder - Pete Dreimanis) with drummer Danny Miles back seat driving.  With another new one Welcome To The Heart, McGrath and the boys rounded out the set with one of his strongest songs to date.  Where Linkous observed "you are the jar, you are the hospital" it's Eamon McGrath's dour insight that I Am The Deer.


Phoenix' Daft Punk connection through Darlin'

Prior to the release of their first album Phoenix was a Parisien garage band composed of vocalist Thomas Mars (and Sophia Coppola's baby papa), bassist Deck d'Arcy and guitarist Chris Mazzalai.   Mazzalai's older brother Laurent Brancowitz joined the band in 1995 after the demise of a short-lived band (inspired at least by the Beach Boys tune) Darlin'.  Brancowitz' bandmates in Darlin' were Thomas Bangalter and Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo (now known as Daft Punk).

A couple of Darlin' tracks (the eponymous Darlin' and Cindy So Loud) can be found on the Darlin' myspace. As Phoenix the group went on to release a 500 copy single on their own label Ghettoblaster, they were then signed to Paris-based Source records becoming familiar with labelmates Air for whom they acted as backing band on several UK TV appearances.  They were also the backing band for a remix of Air's Kelly Watch The Stars single.  Shortly after this in 2000 Phoenix released their first album United (2000).

Alphabetical (2004) got some minor play and a special commission from Parisien male fashion laureate Hedi Slimane (to do a special mix of Victim Of The Crime) for that year's Dior Homme collection).  The live album taken from the Alphabetical tour's 150 dates was released as Live! Thirty Days Ago (some 30 days after then end of the tour).

It is their last two albums - It's Never Been Like That (2006) and Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix (2009) - that have of course drawn the group more fully into the zeitgeist of their age.  By this point drummer Thomas Hedlund was an integral part of the band's sound along with keyboardists Robin Coudert and Jonathan Chavez.

Precocious fans of the group may want to search out obscurities from their early career such as an instrumental single Heatwave that was released on a compilation Source Rocks (also covered by DB Boulevard in 2002 with a vocal under the title Point of View).  Likewise Party Time (released on United ) and a another 7" single called City Lights are highly prized by completists.   Both are very hard to find, the latter City Lights appears on a very rare Air compilation Deck Safari - bearing little similarity to current Phoenix.

But arguably the most obscure Phoenix to at least get your hands on at least a hard copy of is the aforementioned Darlin' tracks (either from the Darlin' EP or the incredibly difficult to obtain Shimmies In Super 8 compilation on Duophone.

Shimmies was released as two 7 inches in April 1993 with tracks by Huggy Bear, Darlin', Colm and Stereolab- the first record was white vinyl the second was green vinyl.   Only 800 copies were run (of which 400 had stickers) all copies were numbered.

Black Milk's Don Cornelius (stream and download)

In harried anticipation of Black Milk's (born Curtis Cross) in Toronto (Revival, Nov. 18) here's one cut - titled after Soul Train's longstanding Master of Ceremonies Don Cornelius- that didn't make it onto Album Of The Year.

Here also is a clean link to a download of Black Milk - Don Cornelius


Phoenix play Madison Square Garden, Daft Punk joins for encore (10.20.10)

The greatest rock band working in their second language - Phoenix - were joined at the end of their set at the Madison Square Garden by guitarist Laurent Brancowitz's former bandmates (from the Beach Boys inspired group Darlin') Thomas Bangalter and Guy-Maneul de Homem-Christo who are known publicly as Daft Punk.

The mysterious duo emerged during Phoenix' If I Ever Feel Better and proceeded to deliver their own Harder, Faster, Better Stronger and Around the World before completely remixing the band live on the definitive encore of 1901.

Then led by Mars on guitar Phoenix began to play the tonal sequence from Close Encounters Of The Third Kind in a call and response with Daft Punk to take the evening to a place even more stellar as they closed out the show with a melded version of 1901.


Black Milk at Revival, Toronto (11.18.10)


< the review and setlist for this show can be found here>

Just announced - the heir apparent to the Dilla dynasty - the eminence grise of the Detroit Hip Hop Scene - the power behind the throne- the man born Curtis Cross.   Madames et Monsieurs Black Milk (with DJ Hex Murda, AB and Daru in tow) will be making a much needed tour stop November 18th at the ideal venue of Toronto's Revival Club in the heart of Little Italy.    On the strength of (frequent Milk collaborator) Sean Price's dominating use of the space alone recently this is undoubtedly the perfect size of venue and room for Black Milk and his devastating live crew to rock the MPC, keys and drums giving life to the incredible live drum captures aired on his best-to-date Album Of The Year.   While Kanye West for instance is no slouch of a producer (and has a legit flare for the avant garde and garulous self promotion) there is simply no other producer rapper's in the game today heaving and howing straight 16's over elliptical lines of gospel psychedelic rock.

“My shit is Martin Luther / Your shit is Martin Lawrence”  - Black Milk/ Deadly Medley


Barr Bros. play CMJ (3 dates)

image courtesy of backin15min.blogspot.com

Brothers Brad and Andrew Barr (from The Slip, Surprise Me Mr. Davis, Land of Talk, Marco Benevento Trio and a host of others) with Sara Page and Andre Vial are playing a string of 3 dates at this years CMJ music week in NYC.

Oct 19 7:30pm Cameo, Brooklyn NY
Oct 19 11:00pm 
The Rock Shop, Brooklyn, NY
Oct 20 7:00pm 
Rockwood Music Hall, New York, NY


Al Tuck's All Time Favourites, Vol. 1 release forthcoming

The long admired and deeply revered Al Tuck  (acolyte Joel Plaskett for instance recently suggested he is an artist that should rightly get Polaris acclaim and support) is finally releasing a compilation of his earliest material.  Tuck is quoted as saying All Time Favourites, Vol. 1 will feature ``tracks from my first four albums, it is my first-ever release on vinyl.  I had forgotten that that had been my dream in the first place. Thanks to Youthclub Records for making it happen.``

The long wait for such a project may reflect more than just Tuck`s shambling and quasi inept spirit of self-promotion.  Tuck is far and away one of the most revered songwriters in Canada amongst other songwriters, and his love for the Maritimes and satisfaction with his life there makes him an increasingly rare phenom to see live elsewhere in Canada.  Recalling a sad period in his life when we both lived in Halifax I falsely presumed that the original master recordings were lost in a fire on Gottingen streeet in that cities north end.  Al was living with his partner in musical crime Gordie Roach, essentially a street or 'outside' musician, when the fire took place and while recordings were lost Tuck recently qualified by email the nature and extent of the loss:

"In that article about the house fire years ago (ed. in Halifax's Coast Magazine), if I mentioned lost tapes, I would have been referring not so much to masters of released albums, but more like unreleased personal tapes & that kind of thing. The last thing on my mind at that time was the music I had already managed to release. I was in the midst of making My Blues Away (2005) and thankfully had not yet managed to have the 2-inch reels transported from Toronto to Halifax. But yes, anything I hadn't lent to somebody went up in smoke, except my Guild parlour guitar, which I had with me at my girfriend's... well...she hadn't really been my girlfriend, but she was after that!
Master copies would have been difficult to locate anyways- we pretty much used the released items, except Arhoolie, which had been basically a cassette. Some kind of digital master of that surfaced (thanks to Dusty ed. Sorbet, I think) after the fire, so we worked from that. J LaPointe remastered things. I wasn't able to be there, but it seems like he did a good job."

Tuck's first two records (arhoolie and brave last days (1994)) were released on Sloan's murderecords at the height of Halifax-Is-The-New-Seattle hype- or properly the Halifax Pop Implosion.  In 2001 on his own label brobdingnagian he released what many believe to be his masterwork New High Road of Song (named after a musical hymnal of the same name).  Since he has only released Live at the Rebecca Cohn (2002) and My Blues Away (2005) since it's a fairly safe presumption that the new vinyl release will be composed of tracks pulled from arhoolie, brave last days, new high road of song and live at the rebecca cohn.  Each of his first three albums work so well as proper albums in their own right - particularly The New High Road of Song which may be one of the finest albums ever recorded by a Canadian songwriter- it will be interesting to see what songs Al chooses to cull for this release.

"All my girlfriends have crushes on Al Tuck" - Buck 65 freestyle circa 2001


Young Empires to play CMJ, NYC

Hot off their engagement in Bogota, Columbia at the two day festival Nem-Catacoa: Sonidos De La Tierra this past Saturday October 9th things continue to look up for Young Empires with a couple of spots at New York's CMJ music week.

Bear In Heaven (Daytrotter Sessions live)

The southern by way of NYC group Bear In Heaven has released a new live session recorded for Daytrotter Sessions.  Airing mostly material from Beast Rest Forth Mouth (while a phenomenal album) Bear In Heaven are best appreciated live where their textural psychedelia truly comes to life.

Bear In Heaven - Daytrotter Sessions Live

Beast In Peace
Lovesick Teenagers
Wholehearted Mess
Bags of Bags


Black Milk Deadly Medley video (w. Royce Da 5'9" and Elzhi)

In by no means the best cut off Black Milk's title worthy Album Of The Year here is the the Detroit triple threat of Royce Da 5'9" and Slum Village alumnus Elzhi (or eLZhi) on the Deadly Medley.  An extremely lyrically confident Milk swelling atop his own beat matches the braggadocio of both of his highly lyrically adept collaborators.  Milk and Royce's previous outing Losing Out has a similar surging confidence although the continued production growth and sophistication is more deeply felt particularly with the addition of Elzhi for whom Milk produced perhaps one of his more succesful outings ever The Preface.